The United States is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis. No state has an adequate supply of affordable rental housing for the lowest income renters. To afford a basic two-bedroom apartment in the U.S., renters need to earn an average of $20.30 per hour. With minimum wage just $7.25 per hour, a renter would need to work 112 hours per week to afford a modest two-bedroom rental. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that evictions are frequently happening across the country. In fact, sociologist Matthew Desmond estimates that 2.3 million evictions were filed in the U.S. in 2016 — a rate of four every minute.
AHC Inc. seeks to build, preserve and provide high-quality affordable housing to lower income families and individuals and provides housing for more than 18,000 families and individuals in the mid-Atlantic region. Twenty-five of those communities are just outside the nation’s capital in Arlington, Virginia, a county with some of the highest cost of living in the nation.
In 2017, AHC joined forces with Citi Community Development, a founding corporate supporter, and with NeighborWorks America, a nationwide organization dedicated to affordable housing and community development, to develop an eviction prevention program for residents of AHC’s affordable housing communities.
Through the program, on-site staff members provide intensive case management to prevent eviction and enhance financial stability. This includes financial coaching that introduces residents to credit building as well as online financial tools such as automated payments. In addition, AHC helps connect residents with workforce training to help residents secure better paying jobs. Staff members are culturally competent and trained financial coaches—essential ingredients when working with the diverse populations who live in the area.
“It is essential to find ways to help ensure that even the most financially vulnerable individuals have access to stable housing,” said Robert Burns, Citi Community Development. “This vital program helps keep people in their homes, which is absolutely critical to preventing displacement and preserving inclusive communities.”
This work has dramatically increased the housing stability and well-being of individual residents. To date, these efforts have helped stabilize 644 families. In many cases, the tools residents learn through these programs dramatically change their lives.
One example is Beth [name changed], a resident in her late 50s living on disability income. Health concerns had previously limited her ability to work. Last year, she was hospitalized for an extended period and her roommate, fearful she would not return, moved out of the unit. While Beth was in the hospital, she accumulated a past due rent total of $8,955.
When Beth got out of the hospital, she had no way to pay either the past due rent or an ongoing rental payment without the assistance of a roommate. AHC’s staff worked tirelessly with many partner organizations to secure financial assistance to pay off the rental balance and then helped her secure a new apartment that met her financial constraints. After the move, AHC continued to provide ongoing supportive services and connect her to vital community resources.
Because of one on one case management and participating in onsite workshops, she now wants to continue her education to better her chances for future financial success. She remains stably housed in an affordable community that meets her unique needs and is dedicated to helping her overcome obstacles and enhance the quality of her life. Most importantly – she never had to endure homelessness.
In sum, through providing affordable housing, actively engaging our residents in coaching as well as self-advocacy, and providing onsite Resident Services support, AHC is helping vulnerable residents maintain housing stability and build more successful lives for themselves and their families.
Founded in 1975, AHC Inc. is a nonprofit developer of affordable housing that provides quality homes and education programs for low- and moderate-income families. Based in Arlington, VA, AHC has developed more than 7,000 apartment units in 50+ properties in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC. AHC’s Resident Services program reaches 3,000 children, teens, adults and seniors each year through onsite education and social service programs and activities.